By Olawale Ajimotokan
Paul Erokoro and Usenobong Akpabio have enunciated the gains they derived from representing Nigeria at the recent MTN World Golfers Championship in Durban, South Africa.
The annual WGC is prided as the biggest international amateur golf tournament in the world, judging from the number of countries and profile of golfers that featured in the week-long event.
Four world-class golf courses, along the pristine beaches of Kwa Zulu Natal, all set against intensely beautiful natural mountains, enabled the golfers to test their ability while representing their countries.
Erokoro, a senior advocate of Nigeria who had a torrid time playing the Durban Golf and Club to finish 22nd in the 11-15 flight category, said that the world championship had afforded him the opportunity to learn more about the culture of other people from different parts of the world.
“Apart from the inspiration of representing your country, an international tournament of this nature will permit one to network and learn more about others. It also makes you a rounded golfer because playing alone in your local environment and conditions is not enough to make you a better golfer,” said Erokoro, a former captain of IBB International Golf and Country Club Abuja.
Akpabio, who plays off 16- handicap and posted the nett score 311for a 9th place n the 16-20 flight category in his maiden WGC appearance, described as “unforgettable” the experience of playing Durban Country Club after failing to tame the Cotswold Down Golf Club.
“Durban, which has played host to more South African Open than any other courses, is a very challenging course. I have not seen a course like that at home as almost all the courses in Nigeria are plain and open. Durban has great elevation and is very challenging. Sometime you don’t know where the fairway is and where to hit your ball. It is a true championship course and playing there is a very good experience considering that I only started playing golf last year,” Akpabio said.
This position was echoed by Erokoro who noted he was not surprised at the success of professional golfers of South African origin on the world stage. He said that the length of most courses in the country is a factor that develops the players into great golfers.
“Their courses are very long and I am not surprised that their professionals are doing well in the world circuit. We must not just see golf as a recreation but must introduce elements of challenge so that when our players travel outside and see the tough conditions, it will reflect in their game”.
Akpabio, a two-term member representing Uruan Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, was generous in lavishing MTN with praises for sponsoring the Nigerian flight champions to the WGC and placing the event on the A-list tournaments over the years. He said he had benefited from making contacts with many golfers from other parts of the world.
“I have made contacts with golfers from over 30 countries. I like to thank MTN for being there and putting things in order. Though I only came into golf not long ago, I like the WGC particularly when it comes to organization and details.”